How to Optimize Your Social Media Accounts to Handle Customer Service
Social media is one of the most powerful sales and marketing channels available, with so much of the population active on the most popular platforms daily: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
Since most consumers are plugged into social media 24/7 it's the first place they turn to when they need customer service, whether it's asking a question or voicing their displeasure. Social media has become the top customer service channel, as more consumers turn to it rather than sending and email or picking up the phone. That means you need to be there to provide answers and support in order to maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction.
Here are some ways to optimize your social media to act as a customer service channel.
Constantly monitor your social media.
"Social media isn't something you can check only when you have time. Not only are there always potential sales and customers that you can market to, but there will always be people that want questions answered, whether they are an existing customer or someone who is interested in what your business offers. If you aren't constantly monitoring your social media accounts for messages and mentions you are leaving sales on the table but also you may push customers away because they don't think you care.
The younger Millennial generation, for example, lives on social media. It's where they get their news and information and communicate. Times are changing and it's where the conversations happen. Make an effort to be active daily, even if you can only check a couple times. Consistency is key." -- Loren Taylor, Soothing Company
Include your preferred customer service email address in your profiles.
"I suggest that you create one email address that is a dedicated customer service email and you list that email on all of your social media profiles. Not every business will be able to fully handle customer support via social media, but you can use the platforms as a way to direct consumers to your preferred channel.
It also becomes much more organized when you have one single email address, rather than trying to organize and keep track of all customer support across a variety of email addresses. You can also tie that email into a customer support program, like ZenDesk." -- Pat Skinner, AnswerFirst Communications
Open your direct messages to the public.
"The best customer service can be provided when the communication lines are wide open. You will notice that a lot of people would rather send a direct message through social media than pick up the phone and call your business or submit a contact form. Today's consumer is more comfortable on social media and it's the primary communication channel for most, so it's only natural that they turn to it when they have a question.
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all have an option to open your messages to the public, allowing anyone to send you a message. Keep them open and welcome incoming requests. You will create happy customers, which greatly benefits your business in the long run." -- Chris Moberg, Slumber Search
You also want to make sure your social media profiles can easily be found on your website. Make them visible, but also work them into your design. The little extra effort helps to drive consumers to these profiles. Look how this site does it -- the social icons fit the look and feel and there is a subtle "follow" with an arrow. It's a clean and highly effective way to display your social media profiles on your website.
Respond to all customers timely.
"The reason most consumers turn to social media when they want customer service is because they demand answers immediately. While not always convenient, it's in your best interest to reply to all inquiries as quickly as possible. If someone has a question about a product or service, the faster you can answer them, the more likely they are to move forward to a purchase decision.
If it's a current customer with a question, the sooner you answer them, the more likely they are to remain satisfied, which leads to repeat business as well as referrals.
Even if the question requires some time on your end, reply right away and let them know you are working on it. That initial fast touch goes a long way in the customer relationship." -- Karen Anderson, The Probate Law House
Use Hootsuite to create an all-in-one dashboard.
"Managing customer service across all of the available social media platforms can be an overwhelming task, so to make it easier use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to give you access to all of your profiles and messages in one dashboard.
Being able to answer Twitter DMs and mentions, along with Instagram DMs and Facebook messages all on one screen is a time saver.
This is very helpful for small businesses that might not have a full-time employee available to handle all customer support. When it's this organized you can have someone jump in one or two times a day and quickly get caught up on replies." -- Pedro Del Nero, Vaporizer Vendor
Create dedicated social media accounts for support if your brand is large.
"If you look at some of the largest brands, you will see that they often have dedicated social media accounts just for customer support. They do this for two reasons. First, it allows them to separate their customer service and marketing/branding messages. If they receive a lot of customer support questions this allows them to provide great service without bogging down their main feed with boring customer service replies that their main audience doesn't want to see.
I think it's something even smaller brands could benefit from. It takes a little more effort, but it eliminates a potential customer seeing a negative experience or complaint on your feed that could push them away." -- Andrew Tran, Therapy Blanket
Let your company's personality shine on social media.
"You are going to have upset customers at some point. Every business does, as it's impossible to pease everyone.
Rather than be defensive, let your personality shine. Not only does a little humor spice up a boring feed, but it also can help defuse a situation. When the person on the other end, even if they are complaining, sees a personality and feels like he or she is speaking with a human rather than a robot, they are more likely to remain calm and work with your customer service department to resolve the issue.
Also, if potential customers see this type of engagement they will not view potentially negative opinions in the same light. Some of the best brands inject comedy and a sense of humor into their social media customer service." -- Ignacio Soria, CANN & Co.